Solar hybrid power plants have a significant potential for cost reduction when the solar energy is introduced into a gas turbine system. The introduction in gas turbine systems could be realized with pressurized volumetric air receivers heating the compressed air of the gas turbine before it enters the combustor. A receiver module, consisting of a secondary concentrator and a volumetric receiver unit, was tested at the Plataforma Solar de Almería, Spain. Air exit temperatures up to 815°C and power levels of 410 kW were achieved. Total solar test time summed up to 247 h. Receiver efficiencies were in the range of 70%.

A new secondary concentrator with improved efficiency was designed and built. Based on an inexpensive manufacturing technology, the secondary concentrator geometry was optimized to reduce the optical losses. Performance tests with this new secondary and a cold-water calorimeter proved the efficiency increase of about 10%. Maximum operation power was 450 kW at the exit aperture. The incidence-angle depending behaviour showed good agreement with the predictions, as well as the results of a special photographic measurement campaign.

Several configurations of solar-hybrid gas turbine cycles in the low to medium power range are examined for performance and costs. The results confirm the promising potential of this technology to reach competitiveness in certain power markets: Results of a comparison between a 30 MW solar-hybrid combined cycle plant and an ISCCS power plant are presented. Future developments for system improvement and cost reduction are discussed.

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